• line of blocks Early Childhood Special Education

  • The mission of the Edina Early Childhood Special Education program is to promote active, meaningful learning in a safe, positive environment while respecting the diverse strengths and needs of each child and family.



    Health Office Tips


    Required Forms

    Students participating in our program need to have the Health Information Form and Health Immunization Record completed before attending an ECSE class. The District Health Services website provides information regarding annual health forms, required immunizations, screenings, absences, specific health conditions, taking medication at school, community resources and more. Please use this site to obtain these forms.

    Early Childhood Special Education… A Quick Overview

    Early Childhood Special Education is an Edina Public Schools program that provides early intervention to young children, age birth to kindergarten, who show developmental delay in the general areas of speech and language, large and fine motor skills, social and emotional behavior, cognitive and/or adaptive skills, or have vision or hearing losses.  After a child receives a formal evaluation to identify specific needs, trained ECSE teachers and specialists will work with the parents and child to develop his/her greatest potential. From birth to age three, these Special Education services are delivered to the child primarily in his/her home or child care center. From age three to Kindergarten, children receive these services at the ECSE Center, located at 5701 Normandale Road in Edina.

    The ECSE process guarantees parental involvement every step of the way. From birth to age three, a child's education is outlined in the "Individual Family Service Plan," or IFSP. After that, the child's educational goals and objectives are spelled out in his/her "Individual Education Plan," or IEP. Parents are a key team member in putting together the IFSP and IEP.

    The ECSE staff supports children and their families by:

    1. Helping children do the best they can through individualized program plans (IFSP and IEP) geared to promote development, based on each child's assessed level of function and need.
    2. Supporting and educating families to help promote the abilities and work with the challenges of children who have special needs.
    3. Providing parents with information about community-based experiences for their children.

    The Referral and Evaluation Process

    Parents have the right to request an educational evaluation if they have concerns about or suspect delays in their child’s development.  This evaluation will be done at no direct cost to the family.  It is provided through the school district.

    What is the purpose of an evaluation in early childhood?

    The purpose of an evaluation in early childhood is to determine a child's developmental strengths and needs and to determine if a child is eligible for Special Education services through the ECSE program.  Minnesota law provides a variety of ways that a child can qualify for Special Education services based on health/medical, hearing, vision, or developmental status.  In early childhood, typically a child needs to exhibit a significant difference in his/her development when compared to same age peers in order to qualify for special education services through the school district.  Children under the age of three may also qualify for services because they have been identified as having a diagnosed physical or mental condition or disorder that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay regardless of whether they have a demonstrated need or delay.  If a child qualifies for service he/she would receive special education services at no cost to the family.

    How is a special education referral requested?

    If you have concerns about your child's development or if your child was born with a significant medical condition you can make a referral.
    For children age birth up to kindergarten entry, call the Early Childhood Special Education office at 952-848-4236.

    You may also make a referral through the State of Minnesota website:  www.parentsknow.state.mn.us

    Early Childhood Special Education offices are located at 5701 Normandale Road in Edina. 

    What happens when a referral to Early Childhood Special Education is made?

    For children under age three, the evaluation will begin with a staff member who will screen all areas of development and will gather a developmental and health history. These results are shared with the ECSE Coordinator, ECSE teachers and other specialists as appropriate. This team will determine if the school district should complete a comprehensive developmental evaluation. If this team recommends an evaluation, an evaluation plan is developed with input from parents and the school district proceeds with an evaluation.

    For children over age three, an ECSE staff member is assigned to be the evaluation case manager and primary contact with the family.  This person contacts the family about concerns and what action to take next.  If appropriate, parents and additional team members will meet to develop an evaluation plan.  A written evaluation plan will outline what evaluation procedures will be used to determine if your child is eligible for ECSE services.  Evaluation procedures may include observations, interviews, questionnaires and direct assessment with your child.

    In order to get a good picture of the whole child, Minnesota requires that all areas of the child’s development be addressed.  A team of ECSE professionals typically completes an initial evaluation.

    Who performs the evaluation? Are parents involved?

    An evaluation team may consist of an ECSE Teacher, Psychologist, Speech/Language Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist and/or other specialists as appropriate.  Health, vision/hearing and developmental information will be obtained by the ECSE School Nurse. All of these people are trained to work with very young children and their families.

    Parents are encouraged to observe during assessment sessions if they wish. Parent interviews and checklists are also often a part of the evaluation. Childcare providers, preschool teachers, and other significant adults in a child's life may be included. The evaluation team will ask parents about their child and his/her likes/dislikes and routine.  In addition parents will be asked about their concerns, questions, and anything else they would like to share about their child.  Parents’ information is very important in the evaluation process and will be included in the evaluation report.  Parents know their child best!

    What happens during an assessment session with my child?

    Members of the evaluation team will play and interact with the child.  This is the “informal” or observational part of the evaluation. The team gets a lot of information about children by watching them in their natural setting. Under the age of three this is most often in the home or child care setting; over the age of three this could be at home, childcare or in a preschool setting.

    Formal assessment using a standardized measure is often used to gather information about a child’s present level of development as compared to children of a similar age. The child will be asked to play or interact with materials in a certain way.  Some of the tasks may be easy and others are more difficult. Because of the nature of standardized assessments, a child is not expected to do or understand every item that is presented. Team members may need more than one session to complete their portion of the evaluation, and some times two team members will work together.

    Where does the evaluation take place?

    For children under the age of three, evaluations take place in the child’s home or child care setting if requested by parents.  In most instances children three years and older will be brought to the ECSE Center for some of the evaluation, but will also have an observation in a natural setting such as home, preschool or child care.

    How are the results of the evaluation shared with parents?

    Results of the evaluation are compiled by the evaluation team and shared at a parent conference. The team (including parents) will discuss the child's developmental current strengths and needs, including results of any standardized asessment to determine if the child is eligible for special education services and what services may be needed.  Parents will be invited to share any updates or new information with the team and to participate in the discussion as much as they are comfortable.  A written evaluation report will also be shared with the parents.  Parents are encouraged to ask questions and let the team know whether the results are similar to what they see on a day to day basis. 

    What does the evaluation mean?

    The evaluation will tell whether or not the child meets one or more of Minnesota’s eligibility criteria for Special Education services.  At the evaluation conference, the team and parents will determine whether the child meets these criteria and demonstrates a need for these services. If the child is eligible, options for service delivery will also be discussed. When a decision is reached to provide special education services an IFSP (Individual Family Service Plan), an IEP (Individual Education Plan), or an IIIP (Individual Interagency Intervention Plan) is written. All documents are kept in the District Office Special Education Department and may be accessed only by the parents and licensed professional school district personnel who have direct working relationships with the child. Parents have the right to participate in the discussion about the type of services that would best meet their child’s needs or to decline services. 

    If the child has not shown delays in his/her development, if the delays are minimal and if the child does not qualify in other ways, the team will offer suggestions and recommendations regarding ways parents can continue to enhance their child’s development.  These may include resources in the community such as Early Childhood Family Education, preschools, recreation activities, etc.  Parents are encouraged to contact the ECSE staff if concerns arise in the future.

    An educational evaluation with children in the birth to kindergarten age range provides a “snapshot” of a child’s development at the present time only.  It is not a predictor of future development or skills. Special education services can be provided as long as a child qualifies for them.  For some children, services may be short term (one year or less), while others will need some support throughout their preschool and school age years.

Contact Us

  • Early Childhood Special Education
    Room 163
    5701 Normandale Road
    Edina, Minnesota 55424

    952-848-4239 (fax)

    Office Hours: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm

    ECSE Coordinator
    Lisa Hawthorne

    Jana Dengel


    To report a child's absence
    call the ECSE Message Line:
    To cancel busing for an absence
    call Edina Transportation: 
    Please specify to and/or from school. 

    Connect with a parent

    Parents are available to talk with families of children who are in the ECSE Program. If you would like to be connected with a parent,
    call 952-848-4223 and we will facilitate the connection.